The slow death of journalism

If you’ve seen the clip of the debacle known as “The View” with guest Bill O’Reilly, then you know that we are watching the slow death of journalism. I think you could see in that look of panic in Barbara Walters eyes which was a sad surrender that said, “Oh my god, we’ve become Springer.”  The news has become a mechanism to instill an emotive rush in viewers, and like a powerful drug these emotional highs completely eclipse shows like Meet the Press which attempt to maintain an intellectual contribution but are relegated to church-time on Sunday morning while the monstrosity of the “The View” intoxicates every day at lunch time.


Journalism used to entail fact checking, reliable sources, and op-eds that stimulated the intellect rather than than the emotions. Disagreements were passionate but never retreated into the realm of frenzied clamor. It seems we have given up on intellectual appeal as the emotional stimulants seem to draw the viewers.  Taking a quick look at the shows, such as Jersey Shore, that draw big audiences, it is clear that American doesn’t want to think about all the troubling conflicts in the world, they just want a quick emotional rush to drown out the need to think.

Shows like “The View” have no desire to enter into the realm of journalism. Toying with the viewers’ emotions can be done without entering the realm of facts. Here, opinion reigns, and opinion requires no accountability, just a bunch of idiots spouting off nonsense with the intent of stirring the viewers’ feelings.

In the O’Reilly interview, it seems unclear what the expectations of the liberal panel were, but it is comical to think that they expected something other than Bill delivered. I cannot fathom what they anticipated hearing from a conservative Fox News host, but when annoying, cackling women walked off the stage, it seemed clear that O’Reilly had won. This wasn’t a reasoned debate, so he didn’t win by proving any points, but he clearly spiked the ball into the face of Whoopie who waddled off the stage as if she hadn’t ever been so insulted in her life. She’s a comedian, for Christ’s sake; she’s probably heard things that would make a hooker blush. How do you scramble away at a shallow rant on how Muslims killed us in the 9/11 attacks? Is this a position she was previously unaware of? Did they actually expect O’Reilly to toss them softballs on the Ground Zero mosque controversy? Would she have stomped off the stage by a claim Obama is a Muslim, as if this were some unknown and surprising perspective of the exaggerated right?

Of course, though, there was no data, no logic, no reason. Just emotive hyperboles desperately seeking to polarize the opposition. It is impossible to learn anything by watching it, you are either charged to rally the conclusion you’ve previously established or simply nauseated by the exchange. You can experience the same response by watching just about any political advertisement.

The Roman Empire crumbled slowly.  But many of the signs of its decline can are disturbiningly similar to aspects of America’s slow descent. The Republican Right’s distorted sense of righteousness along with the Democratic Left’s pathetic sense of entitlement seem to pave an ugly path toward a slow decay. We will either need to re-engage our intellectual faculty or let those who do it first slowly pass us by.

Of course, before you lend too much credence to O’Reilly as a result of the nutty behavior of The View’s hostesses, here’s a nice summary of his perspectives on the separation of church and state which is so far from reality as to be comical. (A brief review of Judicial history over the past 50 years will pretty much lay his ignorant perspective to rest.)


One Comment to “The slow death of journalism”

  1. Joek(old) 17 October 2010 at 8:20 am #

    I wouldn’t call the VIEW news. It is a show that airs opinions about news issues and you know what they say about opinions. Worse yet, the hosts and guests are generally at the extreme ends of the political spectrum which makes for entertaining conflict. Unfortunately, as you say, many people THINK the VIEW is news. I don’t like it.
    If you want real journalism you have to watch Letterman, or Saturday Night Live, Oprah, or ABC Nightly News ;-).

    In general, I agree with you. One gets biased opinion from TV programs sold as news. P.S. News is also biased by what is not shown as well as what is shown.

    I think we have to search for news and try to recognize its biases.

    Do you know a good source beside FOX NEWS 🙂 ?

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